Juggling Life & The Freelance Career

One of my friends asked me to go out to coffee this week and I had to tell her no. I simply had too much on my plate that I hadn’t finished. That is when I realized that I haven’t been taking my own advice. I haven’t been making the most of my time. I’ve goofed off this week, a lot. I’ve ignored the early to bed/early to rise wisdom (okay, I ingore that one most of the time anyway). I have walked slower when I’m outside because it’s gorgeous here this week. I’ve found excuses to run errands.

that’s when I realized that by working myself into exhaustion to make that extra buck here and there is not productive. It is so important to schedule in some down time for ourselves. When we do so, we are much more productive and things just seem to get done. Here are some ideas for increasing your productivity.

TAKE TIME TO BE YOU
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But we rarely do this, especially if you are a wife and mother like I am plus a freelancer on top of it. Add to that my duties as a daughter, church member, choir member, and friend and life is hectic to say the least.

What is the one thing in this world (other than writing) that truly speaks to your heart and soul? For me there are several things. I love movies and even enjoy studying how they are put together, filmed, and promoted. I also love singing and music. I enjoy studying new techniques for voice, singing int he choir, or going and listening to concerts. I love museums and leanring anything new. This makes life simple. It is easy to find things that interest me even if it is an old movie on AMC.

TAKE TIME FOR YOUR SPIRIT
We are spiritual creatures. While we can go months, years, or longer without nurturing our spirit, it can take its toll. When I go more than a week without spending time in prayer or reading my Bible, I find myself scattered and unable to focus. It always amazes me how I say, “I don’t have time to spend on soul matters this morning,” but yet, when I make time it seems to increase the amount of time I have. There is really no explanation for this phenomenon but it does work. This also applies to…

EXERCISE
When you spend just twenty minutes a day, you feel better. This gives you more energy and focus and tasks are completed more quickly. It probably has a lot to do with the oxygen making its way through your body when you exercise, including your brain. I have found that on the days I truly don’t have twenty minute to give, that if I’ll take a short ten-minute walk or do my eight-minute Tae Bo workout, I will get more accomplished that day. Whenever I try to skimp on this area or spiritual areas, I get little finished.

FIFTEEN MINUTES
I’m getting ready to teach a workshop on using fifteen minutes to accomplish a lot. It doesn’t sound like much time, but I used fifteen minutes this morning while waiting for a friend to come over and teach my daughters about sewing to do the research on a short article I had due. I had already laid some preliminary steps on the article by using fifteen minutes the other day to email questions to some people for quotes. I then used fifteen minutes after my friend left to work up a very rough draft of the article. I cooked lunch for my girls and one of their friends who was visiting, cleaned up and finished up my article. It only took me twnety minutes to finish the article. First of all, I was focused on my task and second I had done much of the legwork already.

JUGGLING LIFE
When you throw too many objects in the air, you’re sure to drop one from time to time. The best thing you can do is to focus on one task at a time. i actually have a really hard time with this becasue I’m a multi-tasker by nature. The problem with multi-tasking is that you aren’t giving your full attention to any one thing and they all come out mediocre. I find that when I hone in on a single topic I present a much more polished product. I often get more done as well because I don’t have the craziness of 18 different, half-finished projects to worry over. My mind is clearer.

TO DO LISTS
These are a necessity. I commit to at least five things each day that I want to finish. Some days I have to stay up until three in the morning to finish them. I don’t recommend this, by the way. It’s just necessary at this point in my life with young children and trying to home school and work from home. And some days I am finished by two in the afternoon and have all day to either catch up on other things or to play. That’s the nature of a freelance lifestyle.

LEARN TO ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
If you freelance for any length of time, you’ll learn that there are people who won’t pay you or will pay you extremely late. There are a few things you can do to lighten your stress load. When you have less stress you automatically get more done. Try not to go into debt. Take it from someone who learns the hard way. It is a trap that is hard to dig yourself out of. Try to take a sound financial course such as Dave Ramsey’s FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY. This course, while we don’t follow all of his advice, has helped our family tremendously. The main area where it has helped is in purchasing cars and not making silly decisions that hurt our family long term.

LIFE
Life is short. If you’ve lived any length of time, you probably realize just how precious and short. Don’t get so bogged down in the day to day that you don’t take time to enjoy your family or a beautiful sunset. Work hard, play hard, and dream hard and never ever give up. There is a way to create balance, it just takes determination, organization and planning.

Here are some sites I recommend to help with organizing various things:

* Flylady.net For help getting your home in order
* Refundcents.com For help getting your grocery spending in order
* DaveRamsey.com For help getting your finances in order
* Crosswalk.com Christian site with Bible studies and ideas for Christian living
* Time4Learning.com Full curriculum website to help homeschoolers get organized.

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